Written Expression / Spelling

Learning to spell helps a child to develop a strong connection between the letters and their sounds and learning high-frequency ‘sight words’ (i.e. words that can not easily be sounded out) will assist a child in both their reading and writing. The more thoroughly a child knows a word, the more likely it is that they will be able to recognise it in unfamiliar texts, spell it and use it appropriately in their own speech and writing.

What are the building blocks necessary to develop spelling?

Articulation: Clarity of speech sounds and spoken language. A child needs to be able to say a word correctly in order to be able to write it. If a child cannot articulate a particular sound they may end up writing the word the way in which they say it (e.g. if a child says a ‘w’ instead of an ‘r’ they might write ‘ring’ as ‘wing’ which creates a totally different word and affects the meaning of what the child is trying to write).

Phonological awareness (sound awareness): In order to be able to spell words, a child first needs to be able to hear how sounds go together to make words (e.g. c_a_t = cat), the individual sounds in the word (i.e. initial, final and middle sounds) and to be able to break words into their individual sounds (e.g. cat = c_a_t). Being able to hear the syllables (i.e. beats) of a word will help a child spell longer words with more than one syllable (e.g. he_li_cop_ter). Rhyming helps a child to recognise word families (e.g. cat, hat, bat all have an ‘at’ sound in them) which will make spelling easier.

Understanding spelling rules: Understanding spelling rules (e.g. vowel teams: 2 vowels together, silent ‘e’, double consonants) will help a child have greater success at attempting words. There are some rules that are easy to apply and others that just need to be rote learnt.

Recognition of ‘sight words’ (tricky words): There are some words that frequently appear in a child’s vocabulary that are unable to be spelt out (e.g. where, friend). If a child is able to read these words, they will be more successful at spelling them. (https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/literacy/spelling/)

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